Bound manuscript with alterations in Sheridan's hand

Bound manuscript with alterations in Sheridan's hand

This is an early manuscript of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's famous comedy The School for Scandal, written in 1777 alongside the playbill announcing its first performance. Sheridan's first success had been The Rivals, produced in 1775, and its popularity made him determined to be a playwright rather than a barrister as his father had hoped. Sheridan, and the only other great playwright of his generation, Oliver Goldsmith, rebelled against the sentimental comedies that were being churned out at this date, with crisper, socially critical plays inspired by the Restoration dramatists such as Vanbrugh and Congreve. This manuscript is written out by a professional scribe (commonly employed in the days before typewriters or word processors) with amendments in Sheridan's own hand. He never produced a definitive version of the play and continued editing it for years after its first performance. A publisher who wrote begging Sheridan to send him the manuscript received the reply: 'The fact is… I have been nineteen years endeavouring to satisfy my own taste in this play, and have not yet succeeded'.